Iowa, the fourth-place finisher in the Big Ten Conference but a whale of a basketball team when Ronnie Lester is healthy, walloped Syracuse, 88-77, tonight in the semifinals of the NCAA East Regional.

The Hawkeyes, 22-8 overall but 14-1 with point guard Lester in the lineup; went ahead with 6:51 to play when a technical foul against Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim resulted in a five-point possession. They pulled away after center Roosevelt Bowie fouled out 94 seconds later.

Syracuse (26-4) was in foul trouble throughout the game. The Orangemen rallied with a full-court zone press, but, when their foul problems dictated a need for good outside shooting, their guards did not score a point until the game's 23rd minute.

Syracuse got only 10 points from its four backcourt players, eight by Eddie Moss. That, probably more than Boeheim's technical, was the most critical Syracuse shortcoming of the game.

Lester, playing with a heavily bandaged right knee, directed the Hawkeyes. Iowa clinched the game by making 14 straight free throws among its 24 points after Bowie fouled out with Iowa ahead, 64-61, with 5:25 to play.

The Hawkeyes , who had trailed, 57-51, were rallying when umpire Booker Turner of the Pac 10 Conference slapped Boeheim with a technical. The fourth-year Orange coach was whistled for a double technical late in Syracuse's 87-81 loss to Georgetown inthe Big East championship game.

Syracuse got out of that with the opposition getting only two points.But this time Iowa converted for five points, Vince Brookins hitting the two technical shots and one of two free throws fore a rebound foul against Tony Bruin. Then Steve Krafcisin followed with a basket, making it 60-57.

But the play that caused the technical -- and also turned the game around -- occurred one possession earlier when Erich Santifer was called for charging. Syracuse led, 57-53, but, instead of Santifer going to the foul line for two shots, Iowa took possession and Lester made a twisting layup at the other end.

Later, Boeheim said that he was talking to Bruin, after his freshman's reaching-in foul, and not to umpire Turner when the technical was called.

"They never warned me; they never said anything," Boeheim said. "I was up eight, 10, 12 times during the game (doing the same thing); they never said anything."

Brookins, normally Iowa's sixth man,started tonight and led the Hawkeyes with 21 points. Iowa Coach Lute Olsen said he started Brookins to pressure forward led all scorers with 25points.